some input on my rethinking daypack items for 12 miles or less to feel prepared verses weight

4:13 p.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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hoping you can all tolerate another question from a person enjoying the new found freedom of hiking.After reading more from some of you veteran hikers I am not sure if i should re-evaluate my day pack.It seems it is somewhat of a personal comfort level choice what you are willing to carry but I may be overdoing it to feel prepared..this is what i carry on small "walks" (walks because they are 3 to 4 miles) and day hikes of 12 miles or so when I am mainly close to home and not planning to spend the night but like to feel if I would want to stay the night i could using what i have on me and weather is cooperating. this is my list and puts my pack weight around 15 to 17 pounds.Input on am i overdoing it for 12 miles or less.

first aid kit, home made hobo stove (extremely light, 2 cans and wire to set can on top of can) duct tape, cord, flashlight w extra batteries, all in one compass whistle thermomiter (looking into a better compass), work gloves, 3 ways to light fire, small knife, hiking buddy knife, food for day and half (very light weight food, granola, protien bar, protien drink, raisons, beef n cheddar stick,oatmeal packet, intant potaotes packet,tuna and honey for emergency energy) notebook, pencil, book and bigger rain poncho for weather turning or shelter for one night w good weather and 3 liters of water altho there is normally water where i am at.and my trusty trekking pole.

too much for such small hike or should i add tarp tent ect or other items?with fall weather here trying to decide if should carry tent, sleeping pad ect or if have checked weather and have emergency shelter should be good if under 12 miles. thank you so much for the help :)


5:35 p.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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I would ditch the flashlight and opt for a L.E.D. headlamp because the headlamp is lighter weight, has a longer runtime and you don't need to hold it. Also, the clothing you choose to bring can be your shelter. Generally a well made, name brand WPB shell with a generous hood will keep you dry and allow you to layer extra clothing or even foliage if needed for insulation. Limiting exposure to the elements is one of the most important things you can do if caught out overnight and it will increase survivability. A cheapie survival blanket is small and extremely lightweight and has many uses. one other thing is a way to purify water either by chemical means or one of those filter type emergency straws. I know you carry 3 liters but having a backup is always a good idea. You can always boil it too. What part of the country is your area of operation?

5:53 p.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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glad you mentioned the headlamp.and at some point going to pick up some tabletsfor water as a backup but knowing i can boil if had to hasnt put it at the top of the priority list and im in good old ohio

5:57 p.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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the emergency blanket definetly needs added. i think i have missed that mainly due to the weather here bieng in the 80's to 90's even in the evening.time to throw it in there now tho :)

6:22 p.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Texans were sending heat up into the north country! I hike in the mountains of NM during the winter and I carry a eVent bivy bag also as well as a larger pack to accomodate the extra gear I take along.

9:09 p.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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I wrap my emergency blanket around my 3 liter bladder which keeps the water cool for about 6 to 8 hours.  I agree about having good rain gear that can be used as a shelter, but when I go hiking I want some items also for my comfort, like a hammock, binoculars, camera and thermos with coffee or food.  If I go more than 1 mile I'm taking my pack, it's a pain sometimes but after a while it will feel like nothing.  It takes me about 1 1/2 miles before it becomes part of me, and sometimes after 3 miles or so, it's great to set the hammock up and lay back and enjoy the area.  My goal is around 17 to 20 pounds, for a day hiker it's a lot, and you multi-day hikers must be laughing but I'm getting use to this weight.  I feel hikergrammy it's better to be on the safe side then taking a smaller pack.  I try to do a 3 mile hike with full pack Monday through Friday before I start work and during the weekend I'll do 10 to 16 miles, but now I am doing it for fun and learning about outdoors, but I also have a hard time thinking about ultralight packs with everything less than 12 pounds.  It's only a dream, I'll keep my setup.

11:35 a.m. on September 9, 2012 (EDT)
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did not know emergency blanket would keep water cool :) and I also do 3 miles to work everyday.sometimes back home for 6 miles but most times hubby picks me up.I fit in day hikes of 10 to 12 miles when can (I have 5 beautiful grandchildren :) I am currently getting ready for for first 3 day but I really cant wait to do a multi day trip for around a week but that be a little down the dream is to do the Appalachian trail some day

1:28 p.m. on September 9, 2012 (EDT)
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All you need to do is get out there.  Then all of your questions will be answered.  Don't over think day hiking.

3:13 p.m. on September 9, 2012 (EDT)
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your daypack is good, just need to have some raingear and dump the flashlight for a headlamp. also what is in your first aid kit- maybe you could shed some weight there.mine consists of duct tape, band aids, tylenol, mini forceps and a suture. those premaid first aid kits that you buy in the store are just too heavy. it looks like you could do an overnighter with your daypack. just add a sleeping bag and a tarp, and your good to go. have you decided on a pack for your multiday trip? I would start with a few overniters before the multiday, just to test gear.

3:48 p.m. on September 9, 2012 (EDT)
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true on the not overthinking it part.i get out there quite a bit for small trips,3 to 4 miles 5 days a week to work  foot power and day hikes when i can was just curious if was over packing for 12 miles or under compared to everyone else.think the weight pretty good (15 to 17) and i like the able to turn a day hike into 2 with what i carry so im quessing when i do a few more the overnighters and try the multi day im probably not gonna be an ultra light but hopefully not everything but the kitchen sink either.a comfortable far as raingear i keep an emergency little bit nicer poncho but definetly gonna do a few overnighters before a multi day and trailjester,have a lightweight tent but have noticed the tarp idea seems to be a popular thing.are they good for multi day?

6:16 p.m. on September 9, 2012 (EDT)
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As was mentioned, you have almost enough in your daypack for an overnight trip, let alone a dayhike. Just add a tent and a sleeping bag!

Extracted from my group website:

"For dayhikes in or around the city, you will need good hiking shoes or boots (running shoes are usually good only on pavement), a windproof shell, a wool sweater or synthetic fleece. You will need a daypack (15-30 litres), and:

- water (1-2 litres)
- snack or lunch
- rain gear or dollar store poncho
- hat, gloves, sunglasses


- first aid kit
- flashlight or headlamp for evening hikes
- sunscreen/bug spray, depending on the season
- camera"

That's for a group event in summer. If you're on your own, you'll want to add a cell phone and carry a couple of bars 'just in case'.

Total weight with pack should still be well under ten lbs.

To me, the amount and type of food you're carrying is (a) heavy and (b) unnecessary for a short walk. Two Vel bars and a Sunrype fruit bar is about 1,000 calories - that's a decent lunch. Remember, even if you lose all your food, you won't starve to death before you can get help unless you're way in the backcountry. The stove is definitely overkill.

When I'm leading a group, I'll add things like an emergency kit (fire starters, water treatment tabs, ponchos or tarp and cord for emergency shelter, space blanket, etc.) and spare food bars for emergency rations. The only person you have to worry about is yourself, so you only need one of everything.

Maybe try starting from the minimum you think you need to stay alive, then add only what you want to have a nice day, like a sandwich.

8:37 p.m. on September 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I can't really comment on pack weight as I am also in that awkward spot of feeling like my pack is a bit too while still only having what is essential, but I can recommend a compass or two.  My picks are below.

Silva Ranger CL - a basic, reliable compass without any bells or whistles.  It has a geared declination scale that operates via the supplied key and is otherwise foolproof and dependable.  The compass shown has been updated with a nicer bezel ring, although it is no shown in the picture linked below.

Brunton O.S.S. 50M, 50M or 70 M

These compasses all have tool-less declination adjustments.  They adjust by squeezing the compass capsule and rotating the bezel to the desired declination.  The 50M and 60M are kind of basic with the only differences being that the 60M is a larger compass and has an interchangeable scale card.  The 70M has lots of extra features and offers a bezel that shows your back bearing below your forward bearing, so that there is no mathematics, or guessing involved if you need to turn around and use your back bearing to ensure you haven't wandered off of your bearing line.  They all have a pretty unique design that is neat, but I'm not sure that the design makes them anything other than eye appealing.  Brunton had problems with the declination adjustment for a while, but they fixed the cause (a little plastic tab that should have been removed during assembly) and they even sent me a free replacement compass, so I can tell you they will stand by their products.  They are unfortunately a bit more expensive.

Hope this helps, in my opinion these are the best compasses on the market as I am kind of a compass snob. 


12:27 a.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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I would add a signal mirror. It doesn't have to be fancy an old CD will work. It's the best way to get attention over a long distance if you need help.

2:27 a.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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If you are using the day hikes as an aide to fitness, make the pack a bit heavier.  Since you are going up there anyway, might as well get some use out of the time.  You can always carry and ditch extra water.  Pint's a pound (about).

If you are giving up weight lifting because you don't have the time and are walking instead, consider jogging to and from work.  The time you are strolling to work would be better placed at the gym if you had an alternate way to get to work quicker.

8:26 a.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Thank you for compass knowledge.i am lacking some in that not sure how I missed the signal mirror.will add that for the gym,I work at a fitness center (front desk tho lol)and was doing some free weights for upper body strength but do not enjoy it so therefore seems lately I never find the time for it.i prefer the walkig to the center as opposed to working out on a treadmill,stairclimber ect plus it keeps me in hiking shape somewhat (3 miles to work,6?if I walk back).i do run a mile a few times a week but lately that has dwindled true enjoyment is the step outside And go go husband says he's worried one day I'm gonna be callin him from another state after stepping outside :).getting excited. October gonna do a 3 to 4 day to test my packing ability and load carry altho I am going to stay somewhat close to home with hubby on standby till I gain a little more confidence

8:29 a.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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And on a side note my "walk" to work includes one very long and steep hill and one medium hill which is an added benefit except everyone thinks I'm crazy when I have a nice vehicle sitting inu driveway

9:14 a.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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hikergammy said:

...everyone thinks I'm crazy when I have a nice vehicle sitting in my driveway

 I suspect a LOT of us get that reaction!

9:48 a.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Your Welcome.

Also worth noting is that if you upgrade to a sighting compass (all of the ones I referenced above are sighting compasses), they usually have a small mirror on the underside of the lid that can double as a signal mirror.  So no need to carry both after you upgrade.  Until then, I would take DrReaper's advice and add one to you pack.    

4:37 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Please forgive me for the tangent/hijack - I'm new and don't know whether the local etiquette is in favor of continuing a thread vs starting a new one.  I'm coming at things from a somewhat different angle - I'm rehabbing from major back surgery, so I'm still at the stage of walking a mile at a time on flat ground with a walking stick for support, and I stick to places in/near town where I have cell phone reception and help is minutes away in case I fall (I still trip occasionally because of gradually improving neurological deficits).  Before my surgery, I was pretty much a wet-behind-the-ears birder who blithely stumbled out on increasingly remote walks/short dayhikes with just my binoculars and a cell phone, leaving all water, first aid, sunscreen, etc., in the car.  Recently, realizing the error of my ways, I have started planning what I need to acquire before I get to the point of venturing back out into the hills on weekends for walks, then more serious dayhikes.  Given my post-surgery restrictions and the fact that I'm starting pretty much from scratch in terms of back and abdominal muscle strength, I'm hoping to keep my daypack under 10-12 lb. 

I have read the article about the 10 essentials and numerous other threads on here, but I am still somewhat overwhelmed by all the options for customizing the 10 essentials to a given situation.   I'm sure that some trial and error is involved, but I would be grateful for input on my shopping list.  While the next 6 months will not bring anything very ambitious, I am constructing this list with hopes of eventually venturing even farther afield (I'd like to spend some time in Mendocino NF) and doing my first backpacking trip next year sometime.  I generally hike alone, sometimes with a dog and much more rarely with a friend.  Here are some of my thoughts so far on what I should bring for say a half day walk in the winter - highs in the 50's, lows in the upper 20's to 30's, could be sunny or could be foggy to rainy - so that I am prepared for the possibility of an overnight wait for help (hopefully not longer since I won't be THAT far from civilization and I will be good about leaving my route and estimated return time with a friend) should I slip/trip/fall and break an ankle or something:

What I already have around the house:

- Small, extremely light pack that should suffice as a daypack.

- First aid in large Ziploc bag: small syringe of Betadine (can be diluted with water to flush wounds), lightweight ankle brace (I have weak ankles), misc. bandage material, hemostats, fishing line, Tylenol, Benadryl, 24 hrs of prescription meds, list of Rx meds and emergency contacts, pen and scrap paper

- hat and sunglasses

- extra pair of synthetic "wool" socks and some sort of extra layer (I have polartec sweaters, a somewhat bulky bomber style jacket that would be hard to fit in a pack, a wool lined vest, synthetic long underwear, etc.)

- Mini Maglite which can be attached to my hat with a ziptie to serve as a headlamp

- large trash bags or autoclave bags

- granola bars and GORP to supplement whatever the day's lunch/snack is

- dryer lint and Vaseline

- small roll of duct tape

- old CD to use as a signal mirror (thanks, DrReaper!)

Some of the things on my list to get:

- compass (my phone came with a compass app but it relies on having sufficient phone battery) - one of my projects in the meantime is to learn more about how to use it well!

- Camelbak type system with 2-3L of water - there are some creeks in the area, and water adds weight quickly, but if I've managed to bang myself up enough that I can't make it out to the car, I might not make it to a creek.

- small water filter and/or syringe of bleach?

- Plastic trowel or mini rake? for digging a cathole or clearing an area for a fire

- Air horn or other noisemaker ('tis black bear and mountain lion country)

- space blanket

- silnylon tarp and cord

- at least 2 ways to light a fire

- Leatherman multitool (I want the wire cutter, etc., for at home purposes and might wait to get a second knife)

- synthetic hiking pants to replace the cotton jeans/khakis I normally wear

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

5:24 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Not a bad list, birdnerd. Good thinking on the cotton pants - jeans are a great way to get hypothermic fast.

Now try thinking about which ones you can use in more than one way and which ones are redundant.

For example, unless you're prone to wading through streams, you shouldn't need an extra pair of socks for a dayhike. One point about wool is that it's supposed to keep your feet warm even when wet.

Benadryl is good to have if you have allergies, but I've never needed it otherwise. Betadine is handy for treating a wound, but if you're just thinking 'first aid' all you have to do is stop the bleeding until you can get home.

You could also carry hand sanitizer. As well as being usable for injuries, it makes a great fire starter. Same with duct tape. Carry it or the moleskin in your first aid kit, not both.

You mention carrying liquids in syringes - sounds like a good way to find a mess inside you pack. Consider small plastic vials instead.

Replace air horn with bear spray. It works on bears and cougars and everything else (including people). If a mountain lion is actually hunting you, you'll never know what hit you, anyway.

5:30 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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peter1955 said:

Replace air horn with bear spray. It works on bears and cougars and everything else (including people).

This is solely dependent upon wind direction as well as wind strength. If there is enough wind and the animal is approaching you in the same direction as the wind blowing in your face you may just turn yourself into a spicy snack with watery eyes and a runny nose. 

5:55 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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sounds like you need a bigger/better pack. I use a camelback fourteener for dayhikes. it has a three liter bladder for water so I never run out. need raingear, forget about the tarp and cord and the spaceblanket. get real wool socks, smartwools or thorlos. get a whistle for noise, get aquamira (chlorine dioxide) tablets for backup water purification. don't really need the trowel, although in some wilderness areas they're required. you didn't say where you're hiking? my daypack weighs right around ten pounds, I have enough to survive the night if I have to but not overkill. for food I take three sandwiches, they're light and yummy :P.

6:22 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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tarps are used by through hikers and in all kinds of weather, except maybe the dead of winter in a blizzard, and are a lightweight alternative to tents. the trade off is that the bugs can get in and the wind can get in. I opt for my northface bullfrog bivy tent, although a bivy sack is another lightweight option. it is more dependant on the weather you are expecting, nighttime temps, rain and the like.

9:05 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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hikergammy - unless you plan on doing climbing and mountaineering with heavy packs and technical skill required, I would recommend doing just body weight exercises. As those become easier or too easy, you can do many things to add weight to those exercises as well.

Some basics that are considered among fitness experts as the best exercises around are push ups and pull ups, and I also really like lunges and squats, as well as burpees.

For cardio I run and do the stairmaster with my pack on with a heavy weight.

Once you increase your physical stamina with these exercises, you don't have to worry so much about the weight you're carrying. As you said it's more about your comfort level and feeling safe. As you become stronger and have more endurance you will also get more experience on the trail and know what you should or shouldn't bring.

Just for the heck of it on my last hike, I carried a 45lb pack. The hike was a 16 mile overnighter with 8500' elevation change. I was damn tired the next day but it was great training.

11:22 a.m. on September 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

peter1955 said:

Replace air horn with bear spray. It works on bears and cougars and everything else (including people).

This is solely dependent upon wind direction as well as wind strength. If there is enough wind and the animal is approaching you in the same direction as the wind blowing in your face you may just turn yourself into a spicy snack with watery eyes and a runny nose. 

You might get some blowback, but the bear will get the worst of it. Beside, its sense of smell is a lot better than ours, and the reaction is therefore more intense.

Of more importance, for a woman hiking alone, I'd want something I could use on passing strangers.

4:32 p.m. on September 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Been doing the body weight...push ups,tri cep dips,and few other along with the free weights.think I'm hanging up the free weight thing.and I think the bear spray a definite good investment for the passing strangers factor as well as bear,animal ect as Peter1955 has said.

3:12 a.m. on September 12, 2012 (EDT)
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For me, what to carry dayhiking depends on where I am and what time of year. For a walk in a local park, I won't bother to take much more than a small pack, light jacket, water and some food. I have a tiny flashlight on my key ring and a smartphone with a heavy duty battery and the usual apps.

On the other hand, I've done winter day hikes (winter as in snow on the ground winter) with full gear on skis or snowshoes. In winter, I always carry a shovel (Voile Mini), even on a day hike, plus a stove with some food, enough clothes to keep me warm at night and a lightweight bivy sack (Bibler Winter Bivy) if stranded for some odd reason. The shovel is to dig a shelter, the clothes to bundle up in, the stove to make a meal and the bivy to keep dry. That's pretty much all you need in an emergency. Oh, and map and compass or GPS depending on where I am.


3:39 a.m. on September 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the input.  Good point about the bear spray being useful on the most dangerous species, Homo sapiens

Peter, it is medically somewhat controversial due to the lack of evidence one way or the other, but our vet school toxicology professor recommends carrying Benadryl to give as first aid to a dog that's been bitten by a rattlesnake, which are numerous in the CA hills during the warm months.  I guess it's not going to hurt anything and might help keep the dog a little calmer while you are splinting the leg and getting out of the backcountry.  And yes, I am prone to allergies, although the backcountry is far better in that regard than agricultural areas.  I guess as a vet student (i.e., I know just enough about medicine to be dangerous ;) ) and a neophyte outdoorsman, I lean towards erring on the side of bringing more rather than less in the way of first aid while I figure out my own balance between minimizing the impact of the rare-but-severe event and not requiring a string of pack mules.  So, Betadine to decontaminate a puncture or a wound over a joint (which are more likely to get infected quickly and in a bad way), yes; IV catheters and multiple liters of sterile fluids, which are actually more likely than Bendaryl to prevent death in the case of severe envenomation or any number of scenarios involving blood loss or dehydration, no. 

Trailjester, nuttin' wrong with a few PB&J's.  I practically lived on them for a while as a kid.  Heavy on the PB, all natural please.

As for where I'm hiking, the Central Valley is home and most of the places I've been exploring are in the Coast Range north of SF.  The Sierras are not that far, either, but I can get away from civilization and traffic and into less popular wilderness areas faster by heading west than by joining the masses heading up in the direction of Truckee and Lake Tahoe.  So far, I have found that there are plenty of places to find solitude and nature in places like the Blue Ridge-Berryessa Natural Area which are within easy reach for a weekend day or even afternoon trip in between study sessions.  If I have time next summer between externships, I'd like to venture farther north into Mendocino Natl Forest territory as well as spend more time in the Sierras.

2:04 p.m. on September 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I would recommend putting the betadine in a squeeze bottle or a regular plastic bottle and keep the empty syringe separate, so you don't end up with betadine all over the inside of your pack. I didn't know that about benadryl. good to know. you're in a good area for exploring - the sierras are there should you decide to go further. take your time and heal up.

3:06 a.m. on September 15, 2012 (EDT)
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I apologize for the fact that my sleep deprivation this week seems to be taking its toll on my ability to mean what I say and say what I mean. 

I was a little too optimistic with my statement above about rattlesnake bites, and I think "recommends" is too strong a word, so I'm going to try to be a little more clear so that no one gets the wrong impression.  Administering Benadryl to a dog that has been bitten is one of those things with no evidence behind it that is often done because it *might* provide some benefit, but it's not going to replace or prevent the need for intensive care.  My professor left us to draw our own conclusions but mentioned that it might have ancillary benefits in helping keep the dog calm during evacuation, and Benadryl is relatively safe, cheap, and available.  It is also one of the few things that is practical to do in the field besides splint the leg and carry the dog out (to minimize movement of the bitten limb) if possible.  Again, giving antihistamines, while widely practiced, is controversial and has no real evidence behind it, and no first aid make nearly as much difference as getting the dog to a source of definitive care as quickly as possible.  I have weighed the pros and cons, to the extent that we know what they are, and have decided that in MY situation, with a dog who is going to be difficult for me to carry back to the car and with other reasons for me to have Benadryl in my first aid kit anyway (allergies, insect bites/stings), I would probably use it, although I am still pondering.  Your mileage may vary, I am not a veterinarian yet, etc.

Yes, I forgot to say that that was a good point about the syringes.  It's bit different carrying filled syringes in a tote box or vehicle versus a pack.

5:16 p.m. on September 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Thats one of the reasons I don't take buddy with me. He's a good dog, but just a little too curious. He also gets scared alot. our hike would turn into one big babysitting session. I like your avatar. who's the horse?

6:57 p.m. on September 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks.  That's P, the ultimate "schoolmaster" eventing/dressage horse.  He belongs to a friend back home and was one of the horses I rode semi-regularly during college.  He spent a little time teaching me how to ride and jump better in formal lessons, but we spent much of our time together just exploring the woods and fields by ourselves, sometimes meandering lazily and appreciating the scenery and sometimes galloping and jumping over every ditch and downed log in our way.

5:49 p.m. on September 17, 2012 (EDT)
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nothing like a good trail horse...

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